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Lemons into Lemonade

Over the years I’ve occasionally written about crime in public libraries, but this story about sex, drugs, and the library tops all the ones I’ve seen before.

It’s easy to think of Los Angeles as the “city of angels” if you remember Lucifer was also an angel. It’s also easy to think about the incompetence of the L.A.P.D. if you’ve paid any attention to what they’ve been doing for the past few decades.

But first, the library story.

At the Downtown Central Library, a man outside the building offered an undercover NBC4 I-Team producer what he said was crystal meth.

On other days, outside Hollywood’s Goldwyn Library, a building designed by famed architect Frank Gehry, NBC4’s hidden cameras captured people injecting what appeared to be heroin, as well as smoking what appeared to be crystal meth, crack cocaine and marijuana. One man our undercover producer met inside the library offered her what he said was the drug Ecstasy. Later that day, I-Team cameras captured the same man trying to steal a bicycle locked on the library fence.

That’s only part of the drugs portion. Then there’s the sex.

“On one afternoon, NBC4 cameras rolled as a man masturbated next to the Goldwyn Library book return box in broad daylight.

On another another day at Goldwyn, the I-Team documented a man sexually stimulating another man as children passed nearby.”

If you have six minutes to spare and want to be slightly disgusted, go ahead and watch the video.

Nobody’s even pretending to hide what they’re doing. Shooting up, snorting drugs. The guy masturbating next to the book return box is just standing there in the open in broad daylight. I’m glad I don’t have to empty that return box.

None of this is particularly new in urban libraries. It’s the sort of thing that makes suburbanites and small town folk shudder and recall why they avoid cities.

What makes it a little different is that the city pays the L.A.P.D. over $5 million per year for security in and around the public libraries.

The video shows what value they get for their money. It seems to mostly be police officers sitting around staring at their phones or standing around chatting with people.

To be fair, the news story claimed one seemed to be asleep, but he seemed to me to be reading a newspaper. From the standpoint of security, same difference.

The only thing the videos don’t show is the cops eating donuts, but maybe they decided not to show those.

In one instance, a guy who’d been using drugs just outside the library is filmed trying to steal a bicycle locked up near the building. The owner of the bike catches him and starts filming him with his phone camera.

A police officer is standing about thirty feet away watching the whole thing, doing nothing. Then he’s interviewed and talks about all the people he finds shooting up in the library restrooms. But no mention of any action on his part, as if he’s just an observer.

Maybe if the bike thief hadn’t been white, the cop would have done something. Who knows. When it comes to bike thievery, maybe the only justice in L.A. is vigilante justice.

The head of the library, who really likes the word “absolutely,” is of course appalled by the videos, but it seems at least possible he has known about the drug use and sexual activity outside the library.

How would the police react if the head librarian told them to do their jobs? Probably how they react to everything else, by staring at their phones and ignoring him.

The police’s “Public Information Director,” i.e. spin doctor, had this comment: “The Los Angeles Police Department is committed to protecting the city’s public spaces, and will work with our partners at the Los Angeles Public Library to ensure the environment in and around our libraries is safe and secure for patrons.”

That’s a great statement. They “will work,” someday, once they’ve been paid for doing a job they haven’t been doing and someone makes it very public. But what is a poor spin doctor to do?

If the cops don’t ever do their job, there are ways to turn this around for the library.

For example, they could offer humans for check out. It’s a thing some libraries have where library patrons can check out a human for a while and talk to the person. Maybe it’s someone of a different race or from another country or who has an unusual job.

In this case, the Los Angeles public libraries could consider the drug addicts and public masturbators to be beholden to the library and check them out to interested library patrons.

The patrons could stand next to the people shooting up or masturbating and start asking them questions.

“How did you get to this sorry state? Is there anything people can do that will really help you? Don’t you have a paper bag or something you could place over your crotch?” That sort of thing.

There were lots of school children using the library. That was one of the panic points for the story, that children were nearby.

Instead of panicking about the children, they could have “scared straight” tours to the library.

Whatever sympathy we might want to give them, junkies and public masturbators aren’t persons worthy of emulation, and kids would probably realize that.

They would also get an important lesson in the problems of homelessness when they find out why the public masturbators aren’t doing that at home with video games and internet porn like most men do.

The inactive police themselves could be checked out to patrons. People could ask them why they weren’t doing anything to prevent theft or shooting up heroin in the library, and the police officers could stare at their phones and ignore them. The display could be called “Your Tax Dollars at Work.” It would probably be popular.

But we all know what will likely happen. The police officers will look lively for a day or two until they know that public outrage, such that there is, has moved on to the latest object of the social media outrage machine.

After that, the junkies will still be shooting up and the masturbators will still be drooling over the sexy book drops and people will avoid the libraries and occasionally complain and nothing will be done until the next three-month investigation by the local news.

And then the cycle repeats.

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Comments

  1. Relax everyone. That library system has been exposed for its lawlessness for over a decade and absolutely nothing ever gets done. So in a few weeks this story will blow over just like the others and the masturbation and sexual harassment of librarians will continue on unabated. Go ALA!

  2. My library is in the same building as the police department…we still find needles and crack pipes every now and then.

  3. You come down hard on the police. I’ve written about this years ago. Here’s the truth. The police used to respond. They don’t anymore. Why? Because of the library. The library made it impossible for the police to do their jobs. The library claimed Internet porn viewers had a First Amendment right to view Internet porn. And if a man masturbated, it’s almost always men, the police were required by the librarians to catch them in the act, and act that doesn’t take too long. The library deleted all the public records in violation of record retention laws that recorded Internet web site visits. The library generally acted as if people have the right to view anything they wish and police have no right to say otherwise. The library tied the hands of the police. At some point, the police learned they were wasting their time. They gave up. Their efforts were almost always fruitless as a direct result of what the librarians did to stymie them. And the librarians were following American Library Association diktat of course instead of California law that makes Internet porn viewing illegal in California libraries. So police were effectively neutered by the librarians.

    Now along comes a librarian who complains the police are doing nothing but eating donuts. It must be galling to the police.

    Dear police, forgive that librarian for, despite being annoyed, she does not know about what she speaks. I’m trying to write about this so people can learn the truth, instead of the bull that libraries must allow Internet porn. Even that local law/joke allowing Internet porn viewing in libraries does not trump state law.

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